A child who is unorganized and forgetful often frustrates parents. We tend to nag, remind, and then eventually take over our children’s responsibilities – believing they can’t manage without our help. Some children may have been told they have trouble with their executive functioning, or meet the criteria for ADHD. Of course well-intentioned parents feel they should make up for their child’s development deficits by creating systems and protocols to help organize their child better.
However, I have an even better, more long lasting solution that will help your child with their unique needs for years to come! Rather than imposing your own scheduling and task management solutions on your child, why not work with them to develop their own? When we create systems for children to follow they tend to feel controlled and manipulated which just invites rebellion, either overtly or covertly.
Let me give you an example. A forgetful child who relies on their parent to remind them that it is library day will not do well when they go off to university and take reference materials out of the library on campus. Who will remind them then? Instead – you could brainstorm with your child on ways they could be reminded of their library day.
The solutions shouldn’t involve other people. This is a way for them to learn to organize themselves! That is empowering! No depending on others for their successful functioning! That means when they get to school on time, don’t forget their lunch and have the library books in their nap sack that are due – they get ALL the credit too! That’s how kids develop self-esteem!
You can add to the brainstorm of ideas that leaving a Post-it® Note for themselves instead of relying on mom or dad’s reminders will be more meaningful and proves their self sufficiency.
The same goes for dealing with time management and punctuality. A child can stay on task and follow a routine better if they created it for themselves. Assist them in making that first personal schedule by breaking down all the activities they have to accomplish between waking and leaving the house. Each activity can be written on a Post-It® Note so they can re-arrange the sequence to their liking. They can assign time estimates to each task so they learn to watch the clock, set timers for themselves and through trial and error they will become more realistic about how long it actually takes to shower, dress and eat breakfast.
Working to create their own systems and schedules they learn life long skills about autonomy, competency and independence. Their own schedule is more likely to be adhered to, as they feel less controlled by your imposed sanctions. That means one less fight! How great is that? Give it a try and let us know how it goes!